Next week sees the release of the complete series boxset of Law & Order. It will include all twenty seasons of the long-running show which ended last year. My first time with Law & Order was in the late spring of 1997.
I had just finished my first year of my undergrad and was enjoying a summer break that started at the end of my exams in April. The first federal election that I could vote in (I had turned 18 the previous year) was called for June 2. The campaign began on April 26.
My days quickly began solidified into enjoyable routine. My days began and ended with Law & Order. A&E was playing episodes of Law & Order four times a day, with two episodes each played twice. Waking up hours after the rest of my family left for work or school, I would watch an episode at 11am. Then, at the end of the day after the rest of my family had gone to bed, I would watch another at 1am. The show made great bookends to my day. I quickly fell in love with the formulaic structure of each episode and the ways that each episode was different while having the same skeleton.
After the morning's episode of Law& Order (or sometimes before if I woke up earlier), I would watch coverage of the election campaign on CBC Newsworld. And in doing so, I watched the rise of the Reform Party. Previous to the 1997 election, I had seen Reform as a radical right wing party that nobody really paid attention to. However, watching campaign coverage every morning, it was clear to me even though Preston Manning was not as charasmatic as other politicians, people were paying attention to what he was saying.
Growing up in a left-wing NDP-supporting family (on one side, two-thirds of my other household were Liberal, at least federally) and believing that Grant Devine's provincial government in Saskatchewan and Brian Mulroney's federal government (on top of the American presidencies of Ronald Regan and George H Bush, and Margaret Thatcher's government in the UK) were the worst things to have happened politically in my lifetime, this seemed to be the first step backwards to the bad-old-days of right wing governments. On June 2 that year the Liberals maintained their strong majority government (with 155 seats), holding off the right-wing tide. Reform took official opposition (with 60 seats). The Bloc, who had been the official opposition previously, took 44 seats. And the NDP regained official party status with 21 seats. There was also an independant.
Flash forward to November, 2011. We have a federal government that almost makes me wish for the Mulroney years. And provincially we are in another campaign which, by all accounts, will result in the largest right-wing majority since 1982.
I have paid less attention to the current provincial campaign than I did to the 1997 federal campaign. I work full time now and don't have as much time to pay attention to daily press conferences and platform details as they're revealed. Honestly though, even if I did have time I wouldn't, the right-wing wave that seems to have overtaken the province makes me not even want watch the inevitable this time around.
And Law & Order? After the summer of 1997 I continued to watch it, if not as much. In fact for a long stretch I did not keep up with it, though the odd episode that I would catch now and then would remind me of that familiar formula and that late spring of 1997.